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The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Elena was the queen of Constantinople and the mother of the emperor Constantine the Great. Being a zealous Christian, she differed in self-denial and devotion to the Lord. An example of sincere piety of the queen made a deep impression not only on believers in Christ, but also on unbelievers. Despite the turbulent times and cruel pagan persecutions, she raised her son in the faith of Christ and accomplished many charitable deeds, one of which was the acquisition and erection of the Cross of the Lord.
In order to find the Cross of the Lord, Queen Helena went to Jerusalem in 326. But it turned out that the pagans, by their hatred of Christianity, tried to erase even the memory of them: the most expensive place for a Christian believer - the Cave of the Holy Sepulcher - was covered with rubbish and thus hidden from reverent eyes; Moreover, as if in mockery of the crucified God and His worshipers, on a hill piled on top of a holy cave, a shrine was built "to the voluptuous demon of love" - Venus.
According to the directions of Elena, the idol's temples, set on sacred places for Christians, were destroyed and after them holy temples were built. When they began to dig the land once hidden under the devil's construction, they found three crosses and beside them a plaque with the inscription: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". To find out which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, they began to lay them on the deceased one by one. There was no miracle from the two crosses. When they laid the third cross, the dead rose again, and thus they recognized the Cross of the Savior. After learning about the miracle, everyone wanted to see the Holy Cross. Then the patriarch of Jerusalem Makarii and Queen Helen stood on a high place and erected a cross. The people, seeing the Cross of the Lord, prayed with the words: "Lord have mercy!" Many of the Gentiles and Jews then turned to Christ; Among the converts was also Judah - a man who indicated the place where the Holy Cross was kept.
In a country sacred, marked by marvelous events, where everything is reminiscent of the "Great Mystery of Piety - the manifestation of God In The Flesh" Elena also brought other charitable sacrifices: she did not put on her usual clothes, walked in the most modest clothes among the crowd, and, trying to be unrecognized, gave out generous alms, before she stretched her self-deprecation, that she collected pious girls in her house, treated them and She served at the table in the form of a simple slave.
Queen Elena built several temples in the Holy Land: on Golgotha the Church of the Resurrection (and the Holy Sepulcher), where every year on Easter night a blessed fire comes down; On the Mount of Olives (where the Lord ascended to Heaven); In Bethlehem (where the Lord was born according to the flesh) and in Hebron by the Mamvrean oak (where God appeared to Abraham).
For her great services to the Church and works on the acquisition of the Life-Giving Cross, Queen Helen is called Equal-to-the-Apostles.
Memorial days are celebrated on March 6 and May 21.